Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting


Hello all - it's been a while. To be exact, it's been a little over a year since my last post. A lot has changed since then. I've officially settled into being an Austin resident, finished my first year of law school, and now I'm in the middle of OCI (on campus interviews) and callbacks. Throughout all of this, blogging, and really baking of any kind, fell to the wayside. Austin has spoiled me with it's plethora of vegan options, so for a while I found myself wanting to go out to eat more than cook at home. Also, my old apartment's kitchen was kind of horrendous and the natural lighting situation was even worse, soooo cooking and baking ceased to be a source of enjoyment and became a hassle and a mess. But this month I moved into a gorgeous apartment with tons of natural light and a much better kitchen, so I've been feeling the itch to bake. 

I'm a huge brunch girl, so it seemed only right to break into my new kitchen with a brunch-y recipe. Enter these precious cinna-babies. When I was growing up, I used to love the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. My favorite part was the cream cheese frosting, but between me and my four younger siblings there never was enough frosting to go around. But don't fear! This recipe makes a big batch of frosting to really soak your cinnamon rolls in. These babies are the perfect addition to any brunch/breakfast gathering, and are sure to please even the pickiest cinnamon roll lover. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Savory Pumpkin Soup

Well everyone I am officially a proud resident of Austin, Texas now! I've gotten all settled into my new place (for the most part). I even set up my own wifi and got my stinking wifi capable printer to finally print via the wifi. It's like I'm an adult or something. One adult thing I'm now having to deal with is big/bigger city traffic. Like yikes. I'm a little intimidated... or really more than a little... So this little fear I've got is kinda keeping me from making any major grocery store haul. I brought a few canned goods and some little bits I had left in my fridge back home, so I figured  I'd just try and whip up something simple. The result: this savory pumpkin soup! I've been wanting to try pumpkin soup for a while now, but I was a little skeptical.I've only ever had sweet pumpkin things and savory pumpkin just sounded so weird to me. But despite my reservations I grabbed that random can of pumpkin off the back shelf, and boy I'm glad I did! This is so so creamy and savory without being too over strongly flavored. It works well as a starter or even as a meal with some fresh bread and a salad. It's perfect for those days when your sinuses flare up or your throat gets a little sore. And to all you haters/doubters that believe it's just too early for pumpkin, settled down and enjoy the food! After all, if August is early enough for stores to start putting up Halloween stuff then it's the perfect time for me to begin my Fall pumpkin fast!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Beastly Black Bean Burger

The number one excuse people use to justify not going vegan is generally something along the lines of "but I could never give up _____." Top contenders for that blank space are usually cheese, steaks, or burgers. I get it. You spend your whole life tasting things and figuring out through trial and error what you like to eat. And once you find the stuff you like after all that hard work, no wonder you don't want to give it up. It took you 20 years to figure out you liked gouda cheese and be damned if anybody, vegan or otherwise, is going to take that away from you.

Luckily really smart people with impeccable taste buds have started to realize just how unsustainable animal agriculture is. These individuals are now working towards creating a healthy plant-based lifestyle that is not only accessible but tasty! Yucky vegan cheeses and plastic tasting garden burgers are becoming a thing of the past and are being replaced with with all kinds of delicious and, dare I say it, photogenic plant-based foods. This burger is among them.

Honestly when I made this burger I kind of just starting throwing things together in a bowl. I'm currently living with my father until I move to Austin, so my food resources are all packed away or have diminished into the vital essentials that would fit in an already cramped fridge. The result was that you can find most of these ingredients pretty easily in your own pantry. There's no super crazy weird ingredients besides the panko breadcrumbs, which you can easily substitute for another vegan variety. As this burger was kinda just a hodgepodge of stable items by an intensely hungry vegan, I wasn't sure if the result would be worth sharing with the public. Oh ho ho. It was. The liquid smoke gives this burger a rustic and woody undertone that is honestly just to die for. The quinoa and black beans are a nutritional fortress, and the garlic tahini just swoops in and ties it all together. These burgers are definite crowd pleasers and are sure to fill your belly without leaving you lethargic and bloated. So what are you waiting for? Get grilling!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

Texas is a pretty big place. Don't believe me? Pull out a map! You can drive for 15 hours and still be in Texas after driving 90 miles an hour on the highway. Now on your little, or rather lengthy road trip, to escape the Lone Star State, you'll find yourself driving through hundreds of sleepy little towns filled with antique shops and Mom and Pop eateries. Now most of the time you can count on these little treasures housing some some made bread/rolls, very limited vegan options, and pie. Like honest-to-goodness-southern-perfection pie. Being vegan of course I don't partake in the pie eating ritual, but I can appreciate how cosy, comforting and special it can be. Pie is like the ultimate expression of southern love and appreciation. I mean cakes and cookies are great don't get me wrong! And hell if you cook me a 5 course dinner I won't complain, but if you make me a pie, well I may get a little sentimental. There's just something about pie that is so honest, unimposing and just generally good. Pies, from the busy mom to the professional chef, all seem to maintain this quiet but persistent message of love and appreciation that I have yet see in other kinds of foods. As much as I love pie, it took me a while to get a recipe of one up on the blog. I wanted it to be delicious and vegan of course, but I also wanted to maintain that southern twist that makes my heart flutter. Eventually I decided no other pie would do but Lemon Meringue. This pie is the perfect combination of sweet and tart, and it's sure to be a hit at family gatherings or with just you and a special someone on a Sunday afternoon.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hearts of Palm Carnitas

So in case you haven't realized Texans basically run off tacos. Tacos are definitely a food group down here. Breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner. It doesn't matter what time of the day you plan on chowing down; tacos are like Paris, they're always a good idea.

I'd been thinking about doing vegan carnitas for a while and initially I was planning on using portabella mushrooms to make them, but my better blogger half had run across some meat substitute recipes that used hearts of palm as a base and suggested I give them a try instead. Hearts of palm can be pulled apart to resemble shredded meat, so they fit the bill for the carnitas texture a little better than portabella. The hearts of palm also handled being simmered in marinade much better than the mushrooms would have, and the final look and flavor were so on point. My omnivore sister was throughly impressed with how meaty the carnitas were and swore if she hadn't seen me cooking them she would have thought they were real meat. These carnitas are also the perfect companion to my easy 4 ingredient tortillas, and can be stored in the fridge for a quick and easy meal on the go. And, as I said before, tacos know no time constraints, so whatever the meal these babies are sure to satisfy your tummy and taste buds.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

4 Ingredient Tortillas

Who knew tortillas could be so seductive? Am I right? I mean look at these babies. They're practically crying out "Come, take me... I'm yours." But really though, who doesn't love a warm soft tortilla. Now crafting the perfect tortilla can be a little daunting at first. Many of the "great" tortilla recipes often call for lard or other not so appetizing nastiness, but this recipe ain't got none of that. This recipe is simple, quick and pretty darn easy to make. Oh and delicious. Like honestly, this tortillas taste like they've been made with all the love an Abuela could give. My husband goes crazy for these things. In fact, he goes so crazy for them I try not to make them too often because they're usually gone within 5 minutes of coming off the skillet. I'm staying with my dad right now till I relocate to Austin, so I thought I could safely bake my tortillas and photograph them in peace. I was wrong. I left the house for two hours and returned home with the intent to take pictures, only to find my little brother had eaten every last tortilla. At first I'll admit I was in quite a rage, but after some reflection I decided food thievery is the highest form of flattery and subsequently moved on with my life. Any whooooo, a few days later, after giving very strict prohibitions to my younger brother, I whipped up some tortillas and finally managed to take pictures of the elusive things, so now I'm finally able to share it with all you lovely folks.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vegan Crème Brûlée for Two

I've been wanting to do a crème brûlée recipe for ages! It's just such a elegant dessert and tastes so delicious. If you order crème brûlée at a restaurant you become instantly 100x classier than if you ordered the good-old-faithful chocolate cake. And if you can bake a crème brûlée well oooh ho ho you are treading up the culinary stepladder to glory my friend. Now crème brûlée posed a bit of a challenge for me. I mean firstly I had zero experience making any kind of crème brûlée, vegan or otherwise. Secondly, I mean the dessert has cream in the name! How do you do crème brûlée sans crème? I mean crème brûlée without the crème is just brûlée and like burned as a stand alone adjective is anything but appetizing.

So I made my mental rounds through all of the vegan cream substitutes I could think of. Tofu seemed like the obvious choice, and while I love cooking with tofu using it in desserts can be a little hit or miss. I also considered using coconut milk, but my husband seriously loathes the taste of coconut so that was out. Then I got to thinking about the Vegan Baked Brie and Tiramisu Popsicles I had made a while back. Both recipes used cashew cream as a based and were very similar to the consistency I was after.  I modified the ratio of the ingredients and ta-da! Success! The texture of the cream is perfect, and it's just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without being completely sinful. It's a wonderful treat to have after dinner or for Sunday brunch, because as you know, I'm obsessed with brunch.